process


Random quote of the day:

“You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.”

—Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) on writing, New York Times, May 21, 1986

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

It’s a funny thing about having all the time in the world: there still aren’t enough hours in the day.

As of October 1, I am no longer a working woman. But after a lifetime of holding down a job it’s been surprisingly difficult to turn off the internal dictator who berates me regularly with what I should be doing with my time. She doesn’t listen when I tell her that I’m allowed to do whatever I want. Her shoulds revolve around both working on the house and creative work and it’s a never-ending cycle of guilt.

As a friend pointed out, it’s only been a month. I need time to depressurize from what was frankly a difficult few years of forcing myself to get up and go to work when I felt lousy. I was so completely drained of energy that my Saturdays were usually a full body collapse and Sundays the only day of the week when I could accomplish anything. Now I have a whole week of weekends. At first, I did the full body collapse and it was difficult to get over the feeling that I was on a prolonged vacation and would have to return to the unbearable slog eventually. I’m just now beginning to get over that feeling, but I’m still not completely there yet.

I’ve utterly reset my body clock to my natural state of being up until the wee small hours and sleeping in late and I’m finally to the point of not needing 11-12 hours of sleep a night. I’m getting by on a mere 9 hours now and hope to get back to a conventional 8. Curiously, the dictator has never berated me about that (well, hardly ever). Even she recognized that I desperately needed the rest.

But as soon as I am out of bed, she starts with the shoulds. Clean this, write that, pick up this, finish that craft project, on and on and on.

What she doesn’t realize, and what I’ve only recently realized on a conscious level myself, was that I needed to completely dismantle the old structure of my life. What worked then is not going to work now. Once that is thoroughly dismantled, I can start building it back up again from the ground floor. Structure and schedules are necessary things for any kind of productivity. But I have to rebuild them to match my new reality.

Oh reality, you’re such a tricky bastard.

Another friend of mine retired July 1 and we’ve had many discussions about this. Like me, when she first retired she berated herself on a regular basis for not using the luxury of time in a better fashion. Like me, she’d been longing for years to get back to a place where she had enough energy to do her creative work. Because she didn’t immediately jump into the fray and start doing, she sent herself many hate messages. I’m happy to report her creative life has come back online—but it took a while of not doing anything, of stripping herself down and rebuilding herself to get that going.

The thing about having all the time in the world is that it takes time to be able to use it well. It’s a process like anything else. Artists are supposed to understand about process, but sometimes we fool ourselves, or forget, or get locked into a way of doing things that no longer works for us. What nobody tells you (because it’s not a conspiracy of silence but something you have to discover on your own) is that every artist who wants to keep doing art will periodically have to reinvent themselves. And it’s not as if I didn’t know this! I’ve had to reinvent my reason for writing and doing art a couple of times in my life, and I had conveniently forgotten that birthing a new process is painful. (One does tend to gloss over the icky bits.)

As my friend said, “There’s most likely growth going on subliminally that will manifest down the road.”

Ah yes, the growth thing. It’s so hard, I whine.

Being is becoming, as many a philosopher has pointed out. We are in a constant state of being until we be no more. That’s what the living do, taking it day by day, trying to build a productive life on the ash heap of illusion and ticking time. I don’t know why I thought having all the time in the world would make that any easier. Because, really, we don’t have all the time in the world. That is the biggest illusion of all. The trick is, I think, not to fear time running out so much that it freezes us in place or makes us set up panicky structures that don’t work for us.

Being is becoming. Becoming is taking the time to find that golden thread that pulls us along our true path.

Random quote of the day:

“Ah yes, the head is full of books. The hard part is to force them down through the bloodstream and out through the fingers.”

—Edward Abbey, Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“‘What I believe’ is a process rather than a finality. Finalities are for gods and governments, not for the human intellect.”

—Emma Goldman, “What I Believe,” New York World, July 19, 1908

 process4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Be regular in your daily life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

—Gustave Flaubert, as quoted in The Lie That Tells a Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction by John Defresne

 bourgeois4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.”

—Anthony Trollope, An Autobiography

 hercules4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 Random quote of the day:

“We are a psychic process which we do not control, or only partly direct. Consequently, we cannot have any final judgment about ourselves or our lives. If we had, we would know everything—but at most that is only a pretense. At bottom we never know how it has all come about.”

—Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (tr. Clara and Richard Winston)

 process4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

19 Apr
All I can legitimately talk about is my own process—in whatever. It’s presumptuous to assume everyone’s process will be the same. However, talking too much about one’s own process is talking too much about one’s self, so it’s something of a No-Win.

19 Apr
Conspiracy theory is just another form of denial.

19 Apr
I just realized I forgot to take the poem out of my pocket from Poem In My Pocket Day. But at least it’s in “my other pants.” 🙂

23 Apr
In May it’ll be two years since I last worked on my last novel. I’d say where did the time go but I know: down the whirlpool of caregiving. I was born to take care of people, apparently. My life has no other meaning. There’s just no time for anything else. I can’t help feeling much of the time as if my life, everything I valued about my life, is over. I’m so tired most weeks I wonder if I’ll make it through to the other side. There are good days, but most days I just grind it out as best I can. Some days, it just piles up. But I’m still moving.

And being free of caregiving means someone I love is gone. There’s no happy ending, as my friend Lisa says.

There are millions of people out there just like me. Caregiving is the unrecognized and unacknowledged crisis in this country

My friends tell me my creativity will come back, that everything is cyclical, and I believe them, but it’s sometimes hard to see that from here. I keep trying. “I’ll just read a chapter a day, or part of a chapter.” But something always happens. And writing from scratch? Unthinkable at this point.

Okay, enough of the self-pity party. I took the time to reread the first chapter of that last novel and tweak it. Holds up well.

23 Apr
In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

tp://bit.ly/ZnFRWA 

25 Apr
Jacob’s Dream was playing in the cafeteria so I just had to tell everyone about the Lost Children of the Alleghenies: http://bit.ly/ZPZC4t 
Everyone was properly riveted and scads went to You Tube and the links I provided.

26 Apr
Back at the ER this morning. Mom got an IV of antibiotics. Now we’re waiting to see if we can go home.

27 Apr
Even in stressful times there are compensations in this world: hearing David Sedaris sing the Oscar Meyer bologna song as Billie Holliday. Laughed so hard I cried. The guy in the car next to me looked concerned, like I might be having a fit. I was. The good kind. 

27 Apr
So my printer and my dishwasher went belly up the same night.  I’m sure there’s a pattern there but I’m too tired to figure it out.

29 Apr
Leaving Mom on mornings when she’s not doing well are heartbreaking but if I didn’t leave on those mornings I would have long since lost my job.

29 Apr
I find it absolutely hilarious that Hitler was a vegetarian. Even funnier? The ardent vegetarians that try to backpedal that fact. I know many fine human beings who are vegetarians but there’s a vocal minority that do seem to have something in common with Nazis.

30 Apr
“Dammit I’m mad” spelled backwards is “Dammit I’m mad.”

3 May
I guess the house is officially mine. I’ve just had my first plumbing disaster. This time it was the 50 gallon water heater that went belly up.

3 May
John Hancock Life Insurance is dicking around about paying me the money they owe me. I guess that’s why they have cock in their name.

4 May
It’s a morning for people saying stupid ass stuff and I am not in the mood to be nice about it.

 That tenderness of a few days ago is still there but having a harder time swimming up from the cesspool.

 That’s in the nature of this process, though. If you don’t like the mood you’re in wait an hour and it may change.

8 May
Now I know what was wrong with the opening of that novel: I put a gun on the mantelpiece and never used it again (figuratively).

 How many years did it take me to figure that out?

 I really love that opening (and it works in so many other ways) so I’ll have to find a way of using that “gun.”
 Although I do seem to recall another writing truism about using that gun to murder your something-or-others…What was that again?

8 May
My old, beloved neighborhood that I grew up in, has become the Shrine of the Unknown Hipster. You may have heard of it: Silicon Beach? I literally grew up on 4th Avenue near Rose, the very heart of Hipsterville now. I way preferred it when it was the ghetto: funky, beloved ol’ Venice.

9 May
You don’t get to be a crone just by getting older. There’s a experiential component to it. And man, is that a bitch. Which is also a separate thing from being a crone.

13 May
I’ve just come up with the last line for my novel, Carmina. I guess it’s a real story now.

13 May
Well, at least I made it down to the final 800 submissions. :-/ Probably just as well. I don’t have time for a writing career right now.

14 May
John Hancock Life Insurance, the company that isn’t giving me ma money, mistakenly informed the state of California that Mom is deceased—but only on one of numerous policies they have in her name. The others are still in force. Also, they told us a few months back that no other policies existed. Now all of a sudden they’re breeding like rabbits. Do not use John Hancock EVER.

15 May
Social Medea is the name of my next band.

15 May
I’m halfway through chapter six on the read-and-clean final of that novel I didn’t touch for two years.

It’s both disturbing and gratifying to read old stories I haven’t touched in a few years. Gratifying because I can see the progress I’ve made as a writer; disturbing because I realize that stories I think are pretty danged good at this moment in time will probably make me cringe at some future reading. Not all of the old stories make me cringe, fortunately, but sometimes, as now when I am rereading a novella from some years ago, I wonder what kind of line of self-delusion I might be walking. Reading this poor old thing just makes me so tired, so much so that I wrote this blog post during my writing time rather than continue reading it. Back in the day, I thought it one of the best things I’d written. It even got some recognition as an Editor’s Choice on the Online Writing Workshop. And maybe it was the best story I’d written at that point in time.

The other cringe-making thing is that I reworked this novella so many times I edited some of the life out of it. Now that I’m incorporating it into my WIP, I’ve gone back to an older version to compare/contrast. Some of what I cut out to streamline can probably be added back into the novel with no harm, reincorporating some of the richness that got rinsed away.

Or I may wind up cutting it out all over again.

That’s the thing about writing. One has to stay true to the current moment: pushing and expanding outside the comfort zone, climbing the next hill, and the next. I have to keep learning my craft, not resting on what I learned last year or the year before. It’s a constant climb up the rock face, scrabbling for finger and toe holds. Sometimes when one reaches a plateau, one can take a break, but there will always be another rock face. I can’t worry that some future plateau will show me what a hash I made of the last plateau and the stories it contained. I have to stay true to where I am now, either climbing or resting, and realize I’m doing the best I can now with the tools I have provided myself. And the tools that each day of writing helps me develop.